Oahu bars and nightclubs, gyms and fitness facilities, and arcades will be eligible to tap from $24 million in additional money that’s being infused into the city’s Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said today.
Businesses such as those that fall into one of those three categories will be eligible for up to $20,000 in grant funding from the program set up with federal CARES Act funds. So far, it has provided roughly $151 million to approximately 7,000 businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, said Ed Hawkins, executive director of the city Office of Economic Development.
The grants would come in the form of reimbursements so businesses will need to submit receipts. The additional funding will be made available starting Dec. 1 through partnering federal credit unions, Caldwell said. For more information, go to oneoahu.org.
Expenses eligible for reimbursement are primarily “costs incurred from business interruption due to emergency proclamations and help small businesses implement safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” according to the oneoahu.org web site. They include rent, utilities, payroll and expenses used to institute physical distancing measures.
Specifically identified by the mayor as eligible under the new criteria were: Bars and nightclubs; gyms and fitness facilities; arcades; businesses that do commercial and recreational boating.
“As mayor, I’ve made the difficult decision twice to draft and ask the governor to enter ‘stay at home, work at home orders’ where we shut down businesses,” Caldwell said during a press conference.
“And even though we’ve opened up from Tier 1 to Tier 2, there are certain businesses that remain closed or are open in very limited capacity,” he said. “And I can’t begin to imagine the economic hurt that we’ve caused to these businesses … and I feel very sad when I walk by some of these businesses.”
But he’s stuck with those tiered-approach mandates because “these decisions were made based on the health of the residents of the City and County of Honolulu, and without the health of the residents, you can’t have a healthy economy.”
Hawkins said that businesses that have already applied for the program funds under the existing criteria and are “still in the queue” will be eligible for the additional funds. “There are still some left and we want to make sure that all those have applied will have an opportunity to be reviewed and second.”
As for those businesses eligible under the new parameters, Hawkins said even those who fall into the three announced categories that have already received funding through the existing program can re-apply, he said. “So this is additional.”
Also eligible for the new funding are those eligible businesses that did not apply for the program by Oct 19, the previous cut-off date, Hawkins said.